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Summer reading

8 August 2011

When I heard that the theme of this month’s synchroblog was “Summer reading” I thought I’d have nothing to say. I really have no idea what people mean when they speak of “Summer reading” and how it differs from reading at any other time of the year.

I thought about it a bit, and then realised that I have the means to find out.

For some years now I’ve been recording the books I read (and re-read) in a database program and so I could get it to spit out the books I had read for the last few summers and see what distinguished them from books that I read during the rest of the year.

And then it occurred to me that one notable difference is that many of the books that I read at the height of summer were Christmas presents. So for me, at least, “Summer reading” means reading books people gave me for Christmas.

So here’s the result.

It shows the books I was reading in the fortnight or so after Christmas for the last few years, and so it is a pretty good cross-section of my “summer reading”.


Grisham, John. 2010. The confession. London:
A man has been sentenced to death for murder as a result
of a forced confession. Meanwhile the real murderer is
thinking of confessing — or is he?

Kellerman, Jonathan. 2008. The butcher’s theatre.
London: Headline.

McCarthy, Cormac. 2009. The road. London: Picador.
An end of the world dystopia; a man and a boy wander
through a ravaged wilderness. .

Moss, Sarah. 2009. Cold Earth. London: Granta.
A group of archaeologists are digging in a remote part
of Greenland when they lose their internet connection
after hearing stories of an epidemic in several parts of
the world. .

Robinson, Peter. 2007 [1989] A necessary end.
London: Pan.
A demonstration in Eastvale turns nasty, and several
demonstrators and police are injured, and one policeman
is killed. Inspector Alan Banks handles the murder
investigation, but is joined by Superintendent Burgess
from London because of the political aspects of the
case, but Burgess sees Reds under every bed, and is
particularly suspicious of the occupants of Maggies
farm, a house on the moors. .


Hale, Georgie. 2001. Without consent. London: Hodder & Stoughton.

Nesbo, Jo. 2008. Nemesis. London: Vintage.
Oslo detective Harry Hole. .

Green, Michael Cawood. 2008. For the sake of silence.
Roggebaai: Umuzi.
Novel based on Mariannhill Monastery — a fictionalised
biography of its founder, Fr Franz Pfanner. .

James, P.D. 2008. The private patient. London: Faber
& Faber.

King, Stephen. 2008. Just after sunset. London:
Hodder & Stoughton.
A collection of short stories by Stephen King. Best:
“The things they left behind”, about office knick-knacks
left behind when the World Trade Center towers
collapsed, and “N”, about a psychiatric patient with
obsessive-compulsive disorder, trying to keep dangerous
beings from breaking into the world in a thin place. .


McLaren, Brian D. 2004. A generous orthodoxy. Grand
Rapids: Zondervan.

Rickman, Phil. 2008. The fabric of sin. London:
Merrily Watkins is asked to bless or exorcise the Master
House at Garway, which has been bought by the Duchy of
Cornwall; the builders who are restoring it fear to work
there, because they believe it is haunted. The house and
the nearby church were built by Templars, and the house
is also involved in a family feud, .


Tinniswood, Adrian. 2004. By permission of heaven: the story
of the great fire of London.
London: Pimlico.
Description of the great fire of London in 1666.

Turok, Ben. 2003. Nothing but the truth: behind the ANC’s
struggle politics.
Johannesburg: Jonathan Ball.

Walters, Minette. 2007. The chameleon’s shadow.
London: Macmillan.
Lieutenant Charles Acland is injured and disfigured by a
roadside bomb in Iraq and is found unfit for army
service. He wants nothing to do with his ex-fiancee
Jennifer Morley, and lives as a recluse in London. When
he gets involved in a bar brawl he attracts the
attention of the police, who come to suspect him of
involvement in a series of murders and assaults. He is
befriended by the girlfriend of the landlady of the pub,
a gay weightlifting doctor called Jackson. .


28 July 1998
Hands, John. 1992. Perestroika Christi. London:
Conspiracy by the Vatican and the KGB to take over the
Russian Orthodox Church.

5 January 2007
Hoeg, Peter. 2005. Miss Smilla’s feeling for snow.
London: Vintage.
A young boy falls off a roof to his death. A neighbour,
Smilla believes that it was not an accident — the shape
of his footprints in the snow suggest that he was
running from something, but the police are not
interested in further investigation, so she decides to
investigate herself.

3 January 2007
le Carr‚, John. 2006. The mission song. London:
Hodder & Stoughton.
Bruno Salvador, half Irish and half Congolese, is an
interpreter who is asked to interpret for a meeting
between some shady warlords and some even more shady

7 January 2007
Villa-Vicencio, Charles. 1988. Trapped in apartheid.
Maryknoll: Orbis.
Villa-Vicencio examines the “English-speaking churches”
in South Africa (Anglican, Congregational, Methodist,
Presbyterian) at the end of the apartheid era, and
describes their response to apartheid as protest without

Not all of those were Christmas presents, of course, and couple of them were library books. And some were Christmas presents to other members of the family that I also read. Some of our bookshops have a summer sale in January, where they sell remainders and things like that, some of them books that have been on the shelves and have not sold well, but many are books I have never seen before, or editions that I have never seen before.

As can be seen from the list, quite a lot of them are whodunits. We find whodunits are good for bed-time reading, and also for the quiet days between Christmas and the end of the school holidays.


This blog post is part of a synchroblog, where different bloggers post something on the same general topic on the same day.

Here are links to the other posts:

And though it is not actually part of the synchroblog, I’d like to add Second Terrace: Summer reading list — if I’d read it before I wrote my contribution to this month’s synchroblog, I might have written my contribution differently, because it explains, at least in part, what people mean when they talk about “summer reading”.

And, while we are talking about reading, you can find me on Good Reads here.

One Comment leave one →
  1. 10 August 2011 3:05 am

    Steve – thanks for the list of books – I like to see what other’s read because I love to read and it helps me to discover books that I might not think of trying.

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